How do we settle on that which we settle?

Have you ever settled for less than what you wanted, or expected, or thought you deserved?

I’m sincerely afraid that is exactly what Ann did when she consented to spend the rest of her life with me. I think she’d like her deposit back.

I, on the other hand, clearly got the best end of that deal. I have so much more than I deserve.

But I won’t give any of it back – for anything. She’s stuck with me.

We’ve talked with our kids about their future mates and what are things that would be non-negotiable in choosing “the one.” notebook2

What is, or was, on your list?

If I go back to my teenage years, I had a pretty definite picture in mind of what my future wife would be. I’m sure that dancing and loving fashion and a high powered job and being drop-dead gorgeous were on the list.

Well, I did get drop-dead gorgeous.

I guess the question is, did I settle? Continue reading How do we settle on that which we settle?

Can we suffer without causing suffering in others?

Close your eyes and imagine with me for a moment:  A person is in a quiet, dark hospital room. The pain is pretty overwhelming and the doctors are not confident that the misery can be ended. There is no one there to hold a hand, or softly stroke a forehead.

hospital bed

This is some pretty intense suffering.

I don’t know which suffering would be worse, the physical pain or the loneliness?

I don’t think any of us would like to be in that position.

If you are, I’m deeply sorry.

Let’s go back to the hospital in our minds: Two people are in a dark, but not really quiet room.

One, in the bed, is pretty miserable and can only find things to complain about. The pillow is too flat, the pain medication isn’t doing enough, the room is too hot, the nurse isn’t careful enough.

The other, just sits in the chair and tries to focus on the TV because time has proven that nothing he/she tries to do will be good enough. After all these years, there is no energy left to express sincere concern or compassion.

Both have, in their own ways, given up.

Which of the two situations would be harder do you think? Suffering on your own, or suffering surrounded by apathy? Continue reading Can we suffer without causing suffering in others?

Choosing to dance in the sun

Our son Nick is in Peru on a mission. He’s pretty much hitting the half-way point this week. His mother and I knew that he would exceed our expectations in things he learns and the ways he grows, but even our wildest imaginings have been left in the dust by what this young man has gained in experience and how much he has developed.

He continues to share with us some pretty intense thoughts and observations on life; what is leaving us speechless is how closely his learnings mirror our own. Here we are a world away from each other, and yet we feel closer than ever as we share incredibly similar experiences and lessons.

Anybody wonder how that could happen?

I don’t.

And the knowledge of it brings me to my knees in gratitude and humility.

There was something he had written that I had misunderstood, so I asked for more explanation. What I got back was an incredibly mature, yet vulnerable self-awareness.

In a nutshell, he shared how over time he had come to embrace our family motto of “learning to dance in the rain.”

bombs

For quite a few years we seemed to take hit after hit and I think we felt a bit shell shocked. To not let each volley of ammunition knock us back over again we learned to stand in a bit of a crouch with our heads down and shoulders squared.

We were ready for the next bomb to hit.

And for quite some time, they just kept coming.

But Nick realized that after a while, with our heads down like that, we kind of missed so much of the great stuff that was also coming our way. Continue reading Choosing to dance in the sun

I care that I don’t care

Have you ever had one of those days when you just kind of blow out your breath in a deep sigh, and mutter “Oh, I just don’t care”?

If you haven’t, I think there would most likely be a large “S” on your chest.

superman

Today is one of those days.

In

fact,

I’m

having

a

hard

time

caring

about

writing

this

blog.

Come to think of it, I would bet that even Superman had days that he just didn’t have the strength to care anymore.

That’s kind of an interesting concept when you think about it.

Does it take strength to care? Continue reading I care that I don’t care

What is real? What difference does it make if something is real or imagined?

While the kids were young we always had a family book that we read after dinner and the kitchen was cleaned up. Some were single volumes, others were entire series. We loved quite a variety. We made it through hundreds.

book

Sometimes we’d stay up later than we should, cuddled on the couch, and reading “just one more chapter, please!” This was true as we worked our way through the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling.

I remember one evening particularly when the power had gone out and we were reading by flashlight. We ended up staying awake past 1:00 a.m. to finish the book. That memory is dear to all of us.

We did the same thing with the movies. We all waited and saw them for the first time together. Kind of a fun family tradition. Since then, watching and reading again has always made us think of each other.

Over the weekend we were watching the final Harry Potter movie together before Alex leaves for graduate school in a few weeks. So, when we came close to the end of the film, we all knew what was coming before it happened.

It’s one of my favorite conversations, in both book and movie. The scene takes place after Harry has willingly let Voldemort kill him in order to save all of the others. After the wand blast, Harry finds himself in a clean, white, between-life conversation with Professor Dumbledore. As Harry makes the choice to go back and continue the fight against evil, the scene ends with this last interchange:

“Tell me one last thing,” said Harry. “Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?” Continue reading What is real? What difference does it make if something is real or imagined?